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Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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12.) Tom has an unexpected reply:

"All I know is I feel good going to bed nights, Doug. That's a happy ending once a day. Next morning I'm up and maybe things go bad. But all I got to do is remember that I'm going to bed that night and just lying there a while makes everything okay." (155)

The stubborn optimism of Tom's outlook is in stark contrast to the constant questions and fears of Douglas, a view that is extremely pragmatic and secure in its ignorance. However, the questions continue to haunt Douglas, as death seems to follow him in the latter half of the book.

13.) When his great-grandmother nears death, Douglas receives this piece of wisdom from her on finding someone else to fix the roof:

"Look around come April, and say, ‘Who'd like to fix the roof?' And whichever face lights up is the face you want, Douglas. Because up there on that roof you can see the whole town going toward the country and the country going toward the edge of the earth and the river shining, and the morning lake, and birds on the trees down under you, and the best of the wind all around above. Any one of those should be enough to make a person climb a weather vane some spring sunrise. It's a powerful hour, if you give it half a chance..." (182)

This wisdom turns the act of fixing the roof upside-down: it isn't about work or the sense of obligation, but the privilege of experiencing the world from a different perspective. In this way, Douglas' great-grandmother further conveys the sense of continuity in a community's life, as well as providing him another way to appreciate life.

14.) With a close relative dead, however, the threat of mortality looms even more heavily on Douglas. In his tablet he writes a list of why both things and people cannot be trusted, reaching the following conclusion:


The last part is an admission that he must die someday as well, but Bradbury leaves this hanging on purpose. The melodramatic nature of this writing is a reflection of Douglas' own state of mind, a refusal to take these truths in stride. Douglas is still not able to admit his mortality to himself, and tries to preserve immortality in his escapade with the Tarot Witch.

15.) Mortality, however, isn't something to be avoided for too long, as we see in this passage:

Dawn, then, was a time where things changed element for element. Air ran like hot spring waters nowhere, with no sound. The lake was a quantity of steam very still and deep over valleys of fish and sand held baking under its serene vapors. Tar was poured licorice in the streets, red bricks were brass and gold, rooftops were paved with bronze. The high-tension wires were lightning held forever, blazing, a threat above the unslept houses.

The cicadas sang louder and yet louder. The sun did not rise, it overflowed.

In his room, his face a bubbled mass of perspiration, Douglas melted on his bed. (211)

Summer, which had been a comfort and source of life for much of the novel, finally turns vicious. The details are hyperbolic, indicating a lack of human control as the heat forces changes (lakes to steam, tar in the streets) that can only harm them. The mention of the cicadas harkens back to Chapter Thirty-Four, where they are used as a natural measure of temperature that opposes the efficiency of science; here, they become overwhelming, nature gone rampant. Douglas is overwhelmed - not merely by the heat, but also by his experiences over the course of the summer. This is the climate equivalent of the ravine which symbolizes the tension between humanity and nature: this is the excess of living and self-awareness that threatens to paralyze a sensibility such as Douglas', a capitulation to mortality and despair when confronted with the ills of the world, those described in his tablet.

16.) He lifted one bottle into the light. "'GREEN DUSK FOR DREAMING BRAND PURE NORTHERN AIR,'" he read."' Derived from the atmosphere of the white Arctic in the spring of 1900, and mixed with the wind from the upper Hudson Valley in the month of April,1910, and containing particles of dust seen shining in the sunset of one days in the meadows around Grinnell, Iowa, when a cool air rose to be captured from a lake and a little creek and a natural spring.'" (220)

The description of the air is instructive in the range of its imagination: in a sense, it parodies the labels of real products sold in markets (a point driven home by ingredients listed in the paragraph right after this one). However, it also shows a wide breadth of imagination: the pedigree of this air spans decades and covers a good deal of geography, much like the stories of Colonel Freeleigh and Miss Loomis. This is not only an antidote to Douglas' fever but also a nod to the power of imagination and a creative view of the world. Like the dandelion wine, this is bottled life - and like the ice house, it's a balance against the excesses of summer and life, an admission that cold is as necessary to a well-lived life as heat.

17.) "Tom, if this year's gone like this, what will next year be, better or worse?" "Don't ask me." Tom blew a tune on a dandelion stem. "I didn't make the world." He thought about it. "Though some days I feel like I did." He spat happily. (235)

Tom's matter-of-fact statement of feeling like he created the world again emphasizes the sense of control and immortality that children feel. Douglas feels helpless, but that's because he's gone through a summer of awakening and maturing. Tom is still firmly ensconced in the comforts of childhood, and carries this with pride. The spitting accentuates this immaturity and its brashness.

18.) The novel closes as it began, with Douglas in bed at his grandparents' home:

He shut his eyes. June dawns, July noons, August evenings over, finished, done, and gone forever with only the sense of it all left here in his head. Now, a whole autumn, a white winter, a cool and greening spring to figure sums and totals of summer past. And if he should forget, the dandelion wine stood in the cellar, numbered huge for each and every day. He would go there often, stare straight into the sun until he could stare no more, then close his eyes and consider the burned spots, the fleeting scars left dancing on his warm eyelids; arranging, rearranging each fire and reflection until the pattern was clear....

So thinking, he slept.

And, sleeping, put an end to Summer, 1928. (239)

The closing of the eyes shows how Douglas is the master of his world, the same solipsism which has the novel begin and end with his incantatory commands to the people of Green Town. When he sleeps, the summer - and so the novel - ends. It's also a metafictive gesture, that the sleep of the hero is the rest of the writer for whom the hero is a stand-in. The image of dandelion wine as a kind of sun emphasizes the connection between summer and the artifacts of summer, including the dandelion wine and the book itself.

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Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Dandelion Wine". . 09 May 2017